Heel Spur Inserts—What Is Right for You?
Babafemi Adebajoon June 30, 2022.
A heel spur is a bony spur caused by the accumulation of calcium deposits on the heel bone. Heel spurs occur because of repeated trauma and damage to the foot muscles and ligaments. The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) estimates that at least 1 in 10 people has a heel spur. Of this number, 1 in 20 suffer pain.
If you have a symptomatic heel spur, then you should be aware of conservative treatment methods that can minimize your pain and control any other symptoms you have. To learn more about these conservation methods, take a look at our post on how to massage heel spurs.
Do Inserts Help with Heel Spurs?
Heel spur inserts come in handy in managing heel spur symptoms. Treatment for heel spurs includes rest, ice compression, use of NSAIDs, steroid shots, stretching exercises, and orthotic inserts. Research suggests that they are effective in controlling heel spur symptoms. These inserts redistribute pressure on the foot. They cushion the heel and improve shock absorption during walking or running. A combination of these features reduces the discomfort caused by heel spurs, making inserts ideal for managing symptomatic heel spurs.
How to Choose the Right Inserts for Heel Spurs
There are different types of orthotics. As important as knowing that orthotics help with heel spurs is, it is more important to know how to choose the right one. Choosing the wrong insert can exacerbate the symptoms and increase discomfort. Again, the most expensive inserts are not necessarily the best for your condition. Here are some of the best features to look out for in an insert before settling for it:
The best inserts for heel spurs come with deep heel cups and cushioning to provide additional stability to the foot. The design also increases shock absorption when walking.
Different materials are used in making heel spurs. The choice of material depends on your goal as each material has its advantage. Generally, foam, gel, and EVA insoles provide the best support, shock absorption, cushioning, and pressure relief. So, you may want to choose inserts made from these materials.
Depending on what kind of shoes you plan to use your insert with, you’ll have to decide if you’ll be opting for a full-length insole or 3/4-length insoles. Full-length insoles fit directly into the shoe and will warrant you removing any pre-existing insole in the shoe. Contrarily, a 3/4-length insole can be placed on top of any existing shoe insole.
Inserts do not heal the heel spurs. They only control the adverse symptoms it can cause. Thus, it is best to choose inserts that are durable and will last for as long as possible.
In the end, it is better to opt for an insert designed and recommended by a podiatrist. Orthotics for heel pain fall in this category because they are custom-fitted by a seasoned podiatrist with years of experience in the field.
The Relationship Between Heel Spurs and Plantar Fasciitis
When you compare heel spur vs plantar fasciitis, you’ll find that they are interrelated but distinct. While a bony spur is a bony deposit at the bottom of the heel along the course of the plantar fascia, plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia.
Because they often coexist, these conditions are often confused. This may be partly because they share the same risk factors including tight calf muscles, obesity, ill-fitting shoes, foot arch type, abnormal gait patterns, and repetitive stress on the heel.
Also, it may be because they share similar symptoms, including pain, redness, swelling, and tenderness. However, there are still obvious differences between the two. For instance, while plantar fasciitis will cause stabbing heel pain, a heel spur causes pain in the heel bone. Plantar fasciitis is more likely to cause heel spurs than heel spurs are likely to cause plantar fasciitis.
Are Orthotic Inserts Necessary for Heel Spurs?
For many people, heel spurs don't cause any pain, and for them, orthotic inserts are unnecessary. However, for people who have pain because of heel spurs, orthotic inserts are necessary. Without treatment, heel spurs can cause activity limitation because weight-bearing exacerbates the condition. In addition to this, repetitive stress from walking, running, or jumping on hard surfaces can cause heel spurs. Using orthotic inserts can bring significant relief that would not otherwise be possible.